This may be a be late in the game considering the land is already purchased and planning in development, but I have just become aware of it and hope I can influence the matter in some way.
I am against Rushden Lakes, and all retail projects like it, in essence because it is such a clear indication of a one-sided investment. It would not benefit (or is desired by) the locals at all – me included. There are plenty of sites already available in very well placed areas and organised enough to house these businesses should they really want to begin trade in the Rushden area. There is no need to build yet another eyesore of the same uniform products already available a mere 15 minutes away.
In a time where all shopping can be done online and infrastructure developed enough to deliver anything and everything straight to one’s door, why bother continuing an outdated business model?
The Rushden Reporter lamented that because Rushden missed out on motor engineering investment, that Rushden should jump at this project. I agree that it was a mistake to pass such an industry by, but it’d also be a mistake to become desperate just because a small town is lacking commercial identity. At least, Rushden should continue to hold out, or even seed for itself, investment that would contribute to production (and thus identity), instead of leeching it via more generic consumerism. Rushden has a lovely town centre of boutique shops, and access to the large brands at its perimeter. So for £40m, I’m sure something more productive can be devised.
This project would also be done at the cost of the myraid of other things that could greatly benefit the area (in both finances and public use), which the locals have clearly stated they would want.
Rushden still has some infrastructure needs, but also has many little pockets of industry that could be encouraged instead: such as the care for the elderly indsutry, sports and physical leisure acitvities of all kinds flourish in the area, the proposed leisure centre (which I am a great supporter of – disappointed at it being shelved), expansion of clubs and societies, any kind of nature spot, museums of its high quality manufacturing past, a small dedicated bus centre with improved transport, IT support flourishes here, as does home improvements – the ideas are endless.
Any of these things would turn Rushden into a propserous little hub of acitivity unique to itself, instead of just another generic den of foreign (to Rushden) big business that does not consider what the locals actually want or need. These may be strong words, but it is the unspoken feelings in the air of Rushden’s corpus.
OR, if LXB really want to introduce this retail park; give it Kettering; Kettering shopping areas are in dire need of this type of investment – and the locals want it.
And my last point: look at central Bedford: they’ve had this kind of development(s) for decades; to which the area has been in stagnation and become run down – Bedford clings on to its law court, college, and farmers market (anything of ‘touristy’ value got given to Milton Keynes) – without these pillars it would be clear to see that these ‘retail site(s)’ didn’t do much- both financially and for the locals, because after the essentials (such as supermarket, thoroughfare, etc) anything else ends up being resented, thus not contributed to, and thus stagnates.
I encourage you to do your own research on the true public sentiment. I think you’ll find the above points are pertinent.